The Cowboys finished 6-10 last season, which was a big disappointment in the first season under new coach Mike McCarthy. The offense fell apart before midseason thanks to the season-ending ankle injury to quarterback Dak Prescott, and the defense never recovered.
Dallas has confidence that a healthy, well-compensated Prescott will lead a turnaround back to playoff contention. There are high expectations that the team will finish in first place after navigating through the 2021 NFL schedule.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Cowboys’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
Dallas Cowboys schedule 2021
The Cowboys will play in the NFL’s season-opening game on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Their home opener will be Sept. 27, a Monday night game against the Eagles.
Here is the Dallas Cowboys’ complete schedule for 2021.
|1||Sept. 9||at Buccaneers (Thursday)||8:20 p.m. ET||NBC|
|2||Sept. 19||at Chargers||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|3||Sept. 27||vs. Eagles (Monday)||8:15 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|4||Oct. 3||vs. Panthers||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|5||Oct. 10||vs. Giants||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|6||Oct. 17||at Patriots||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|8||Oct. 31||at Vikings||8:20 p.m. ET||NBC|
|9||Nov. 7||vs. Broncos||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|10||Nov. 14||vs. Falcons||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|11||Nov. 21||at Chiefs||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|12||Nov. 25||vs. Raiders (Thanksgiving)||4:30 p.m. ET||CBS|
|13||Dec. 2||at Saints (Thursday)||8:20 p.m. ET||Fox/NFLN|
|14||Dec. 12||at Washington||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|15||Dec. 19||at Giants||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|16||Dec. 26||vs. Washington||8:20 p.m. ET||NBC|
|17||Jan. 2||vs. Cardinals||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|18||Jan. 9||at Eagles||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
The Cowboys didn’t fare well in division play last season but will look to take better advantage of the Giants, Eagles and Washington over six games. The NFC East also draws all of the NFC South and the entire AFC West.
Dallas, as a third-place team, also gets Arizona and Minnesota from the NFC. The 17th opponent is notable: New England from the AFC East.
Cowboys strength of schedule
The Cowboys have the second-easiest schedule in the NFL. Their 2021 opponents went a combined 122-148-2 for a winning percentage of .452.
Dallas draws two games against reigning division champion Washington. The other returning playoff teams on the slate are strong ones: Kansas City, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
Toughest tests: The away games are brutal, led by the Chiefs, Saints and Buccaneers. The Chargers, Vikings and Patriots all pile on. At home, the Cardinals and Washington are by far the most daunting games.
Biggest breaks: The Cowboys aren’t the best home team, but other than the division and the Cardinals, they get the Falcons, Panthers, Broncos and Raiders in Arlington. They should feel confident about outscoring all of those teams with Prescott. The road breaks don’t exist outside of the NFC East.
Bottom line: Prescott’s return is huge. The offense will light it up and give the Cowboys a chance in every game, even if their defense continues to be a liability even with some big changes. McCarthy will coach like he did during his early days in Green Bay and Dallas will take a better, but still weak, division.
Record prediction: 10-7